Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 Nov 2009

ELECTRICITY: What About Demand Management?


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE Cape Chamber of Commerce says it is becoming concerned at the lack of progress by Eskom and the municipalities on an improved demand management programme.

At present the most visible sign of demand management are the compact fluorescent lights and messages on television appealing to viewers to switch off electronic equipment during periods of peak demand,” said Joe Emeran, the Chamber’s new President.

He said the Chamber would like to know what had happened to plans to introduce differential tariffs to encourage commerce and industry to save electricity during peak hours and to do work which consumed large amounts of current at night when surplus capacity was available.

During peak hours when demand is high Eskom has to start up its diesel-powered gas turbines to produce the extra electricity required. These gas turbines have very high operating costs and this is one of the reasons why the price of electricity has increased so sharply.

If the load could be shifted, the electricity infrastructure would be used more efficiently and discounted power prices during the night would be an important incentive for industry to reschedule production and save money. Eskom already applied differential tariffs for some direct customers such as the mines, but the system could be extended through the distributors to other industrial and commercial customers.

It was disappointing that there had been so little discussion on extending the ripple control system which allows the distributor, generally the municipalities, to insert a signal in the electricity supply to switch off electric geysers during peak hours. The system caused very little inconvenience and it was more efficient than appeals on television.

Load shifting ensures that the electricity infrastructure is used more efficiently.  The Chamber believes these techniques in addition to measures such as energy efficient lighting and the use of gas for cooking and heating are going to become very important in the era of high electricity prices.


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